HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR HER FIRST TIME AT OVERNIGHT CAMP
Our youngest will be going to camp for the first time this summer. Although I will miss her like crazy, I know in my heart that she will benefit in so many ways, gain tremendous confidence and have so much fun. Although part of me would like not to even think about the two weeks when I will feel like I am missing a part of myself, I am trying to remember the importance of preparing her mentally during these cold winter months. Here is some advice when preparing your child to go to camp for the first time:
- BE HONEST WHEN YOUR CHILD ASKS ABOUT HOMESICKNESS - Tell her that most kids love camp and want to go summer after summer. Explain that it is also very normal to miss home and family occasionally, but that usually it doesn't last very long. Tell her that she will be so busy having so much fun that she may even forget that she was ever homesick! Also, remind her that camps hire the best counsellors that are there to help her anytime - day or night!
- TALK ABOUT CAMP DURING THE DAYTIME - kids are tired or vulnerable at bedtime after a long day of school and activities. Saying things like, "boy, I'm sure going to miss tucking you in every night at camp"....is not helpful!!! Save the camp talk for the day light hours! For example, if she doesn't like the fruit offered for breakfast, remind her how fun it will be to make her own food choices at camp! When choosing a new rain coat, remind her how great it will be when it rains one day at camp. It is wonderful to talk up camp in the winter months, but keep it during the daytime!
- BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR ITEMS TO PERSONALIZE HER BUNK SPACE - birthday are a great excuse to consider purchasing something camp related. Just like a dorm room at university, it feels so much more cozy and comfortable with a personal touch.....think throw blanket, poster, fun calendar or hanging lantern. This will also get her thinking about camp in a positive way and hopefully get her excited well in advance.
- ARRANGE A FEW SLEEPOVERS - even if it is painful to have her come home grouchy and exhausted from being up all night, having sleepovers will help give her the confidence that she is capable of bedtime without you. If will also prepare you for the feeling you will get when you walk past her empty room at night!
- BE SURE TO INCORPORATE READING INTO HER REGULAR BEDTIME ROUTINE - I think that this is always a good idea as it fosters a love of reading, intelligence and imagination in both children and adults. Besides these important benefits, a nighttime reading routine is a perfect way for your new camper to independently tire her eyes and calm her mind after a busy day at camp.
- ATTEND WINTER CAMP OPEN HOUSE IF POSSIBLE - the love of camp is often contagious! Going to a camp open house allows her to meet new campers and counsellors. Often there is a slide show with fun summer camp pictures that will make both you and your camper excited about her upcoming adventures.